Princess Ariel is the protagonist of Disney's classic 1989 animated feature film, The Little Mermaid. She is the seventh and youngest daughter of King Triton and Queen Athena, rulers of the undersea kingdom of Atlantica. Ariel lived through much of her young life with a passionate - yet forbidden - admiration of the human world, and longed to someday experience life on the surface.
At the beginning of the film, Ariel, and her fish friend, Flounder swim through a shipwreck where they salvage human items. During their adventure, they are chased out of the sunken ship by a shark, but Ariel manages to outwit him. After escaping him, Ariel and Flounder swim up to the surface, where they speak to Scuttle to identify human objects. He misidentifies a fork as a "dinglehopper" used to straighten their hair and a pipe as a "snarfblatt" used to make music. The identification of the latter reminds her of the concert she was supposed to be a part of. Ariel hurries home to Triton and Sebastian, who both rebuke her for missing the concert. Hearing from Flounder about her encounter with a seagull, Triton reprimands Ariel for swimming up to the surface and demands that she never does so again, driving Ariel to tearfully swim off to her secret grotto. There, Ariel's collection of human objects is kept, hidden away from the other merpeople. She feels that collecting them isn't enough and gets more curious about the human world, even expressing her desire to actually live in it. As Sebastian tries to talk Ariel out of her obsession, the mermaid spots a ship passing above. Curious, she quickly swims up to the surface and towards it. Among the humans aboard, Ariel's attention is drawn to a male human named Eric. Just then, a storm moves in and destroys the ship. Ariel looks around for Eric and finds him floating unconscious in the sea. She saves him from drowning and takes his body to shore, where Eric starts to breathe again. Ariel sings to Eric as he steadily regains his consciousness. Eric's manservant, Grimsby, suddenly arrives in search of the prince, though he fails to notice Ariel. As Eric is taken into care, Ariel watches on, even more, determined to accomplish her dreams of living alongside humanity. Back at Atlantica, Ariel's sisters hear her humming about dreamily, which gives them the impression that she is in love. Ariel comes up with a plan to somehow see Eric again, but Sebastian tries to talk her out of it, telling her how life under the sea is better than the world up above through the song "Under the Sea". Flounder arrives and takes Ariel away to show her a surprise at her grotto, where he surprises her with a statue of Prince Eric that he has somehow salvaged from the wrecked ship. Unfortunately, King Triton soon appears, having learned from Sebastian that Ariel had rescued a human from drowning. Shocked and enraged that she is in love with that human, Triton loses his temper and, in a blind rage, proceeds to destroy all the human objects in the grotto with his trident, including the statue of Eric. Devastated, Ariel breaks down in tears, and an ashamed Triton leaves regretting what he has done. Sebastian, who has accompanied him, tries to console Ariel, only for her to tell him to leave. After Sebastian and Flounder exit, Flotsam and Jetsam appear to convince Ariel to see their mistress, Ursula, who may have the power to make her dream come true. She, after initially attempting to refuse, reluctantly follows them to Ursula's fortress, while Sebastian and Flounder follow. At the fortress, Ursula—who knows that Ariel is in love with a human through spying on her via Flotsam and Jetsam—makes a proposition: In exchange for her voice, Ariel will become a human for three days, during which she must get a kiss of true love from Eric before the sun sets on the third day. Should she succeed, she will remain human permanently; should she fail, she will turn back into a mermaid and will belong to Ursula forever. A desperate Ariel accepts the deal and signs a contract conjured by Ursula. Her voice is then sealed into a seashell on Ursula's necklace. Ariel is then turned into a human and is helped to the surface by Flounder and Sebastian due to her now having the inability to swim and breathe in water. At the shore, Sebastian goes into a nervous panic over the predicament and begins to trot home to seek help from the king. Ariel pleads for Sebastian to stay, and out of sympathy, he agrees. Scuttle provides some "clothing" for Ariel in the meantime, just as they are discovered by Eric's dog, Max, who leads his master to them. Eric faintly recognizes Ariel but doesn't believe her to be the girl who rescued him from the shipwreck, due to her inability to speak. Nevertheless, he takes her to his castle, where Ariel is given a bath and proper clothing. At dinner, Ariel notices a fork and uses it to comb her hair, leaving Eric and his servants dumbfounded. Ariel then notices Grimsby's pipe and tries to use it as a musical instrument. Despite Ariel's initial embarrassment, Eric finds her antics funny. Carlotta even notes that this is the first time Eric has smiled in quite some time, much to Ariel's delight. Eric then invites Ariel on a tour of the kingdom, which she accepts. During their outing, Sebastian, Flounder, and Scuttle anxiously watch on, awaiting the kiss. Ariel is more preoccupied with taking in the atmosphere of the human world; she even learns how to dance and ride a carriage. That evening, she and Eric go out for a boat ride in a lagoon. In hopes of initiating a kiss, Scuttle tries to provide some "romantic stimulation". However, his terrible squawking (mistaken for singing) prompts Sebastian to lead some animals of the lagoon to create a more fitting mood with his song "Kiss the Girl". Sebastian's plan seems to have a positive effect on Ariel and Eric, as they steadily draw closer to each other. Before they can kiss, however, Flotsam and Jetsam purposely tip the boat over by order of Ursula (who's been watching Ariel and Eric's development from her fortress). This ruins the moment, thus ending Ariel and Eric's date. The next day (which is the third and last of Ariel's human days), Scuttle delivers the news that Eric is getting hitched. Believing herself to be the girl in question, Ariel excitedly runs downstairs, only to see Eric with a dark-haired girl named Vanessa, whom he intends to marry. Devastated, Ariel breaks down in tears and runs off. As the wedding ship departs with Eric aboard, Ariel is left at the port to mourn her losses as Sebastian and Flounder do the same. Meanwhile, Scuttle comes to discover that Vanessa is actually Ursula in disguise and flies back to warn Ariel. Determined to save both herself and Eric, Ariel swims to the wedding ship with help from Flounder, while Sebastian returns to Atlantic to receive help from King Triton. Scuttle, meanwhile, rallies the lagoon animals to stall the wedding by assaulting Vanessa. Eventually, Ursula's necklace is destroyed, releasing Ariel's voice and freeing Eric from his trance. The two embrace each other as Eric finally realizes that Ariel is the girl that rescued him. Before they can kiss, however, the sunsets and Ariel turns back into a mermaid. Vanessa transforms back into Ursula, takes Ariel as her prisoner, and dives back into the sea with her. As Ursula thinks of her next move, Triton, having been alerted by Sebastian, confronts and orders her to release Ariel, to which she refuses. Ariel apologizes to Triton as he attempts to destroy the contract, to no avail. Ursula proceeds to wither the princess and turn her into a polyp-like all her other victims, proclaiming the contract to be legally unbreakable but offers her freedom should Triton be willing to take her place. Triton accepts, and though Ariel is released, she is forced to watch as her father is withered and transformed into a polyp faster than when Ursula tried to do it to her. Ursula then takes his crown and trident, becoming queen of the seas, moments before an enraged Ariel tries to fight her off, though she is quickly restrained. Eric arrives to help her, striking Ursula with a harpoon. She prepares to destroy him with the trident, but Ariel pulls on her hair just as it shoots, causing the shot to miss Eric and hit Flotsam and Jetsam instead, killing them. After Ursula shortly mourns her pets' loss, she enlarges herself as an even eviler, nastier, monstrous version of herself. Ariel and Eric try to escape but then face a towering, gigantic Ursula. She declares herself as ruler of the ocean who has the power to control the waves and creates a rainstorm and whirlpool. Ariel is separated from Eric, and Ursula causes her to become trapped at the bottom of the whirlpool. She aims the trident at Ariel and fires bolts of pure destruction, who barely manages to avoid her painful destruction each time. Just as Ursula prepares to use the trident to vaporize her with an unavoidable blast and taunting that she will never kiss Eric, he plunges the splintered bow of one of the shipwrecks (that have surfaced as a result of the whirlpool) through her abdomen, killing her and saving Ariel in the nick of time. With Ursula defeated, her spells upon the unfortunate merpeople are broken, including the spell cast upon Triton, who transforms back into a merman. At the surface, Eric manages to swim to shore, breaking down out of exhaustion as a saddened Ariel watches on from a nearby rock. Triton and Sebastian look on from a distance; the former finally softening up toward humans upon realizing Eric risked his own life to save Ariel. Knowing the love between them is pure and true, despite their differences as species, Triton uses the power of the trident to permanently transform Ariel into a human, allowing her to be with the one she loves, at long last. After the transformation, she walks up to the shore, where she is happily reunited with Eric as he embraces her, and they share their first kiss. Soon, they have their wedding on the wedding ship attended by his loyal subjects on-board and her family and friends in the sea around the ship. She silently bids farewell to Scuttle and Flounder and gives Triton a heartwarming hug before happily sailing away with Eric. Triton then casts a beautiful rainbow over the sky to wish the couple well as they start their new future together. Thanks to Ariel's courage, Triton understands that humans weren't bad and accepts Eric, her new husband, as his new son-in-law.
Ariel is a beautiful adolescent mermaid with an hourglass figure, fair skin, and large, deep aqua blue eyes. From childhood to her teenage years, she wore a lavender seashell bra. As a child, her lips were the same color as her skin and as a teenager, they are bright red. Ariel's most defining feature is her long, flowing, thick, bright red hair. From the waist down, she has a green horizontal fish-like tail with sea-green scales and sea-foam green fins and a matching V-shaped waist-line resembling fish-lips. She most likely has the reproductive organs of a tropical fish. In Little Mermaid's Island, her seashell bra looks more like a strapless top that covers all of her torso.
When Ariel becomes a human, the only article of clothing she wore was her seashell bra but wears an old sail from a shipwreck with some rope to keep it closed, fashioned by her friend, Scuttle. Being prepared for dinner, she wears a pink and white gown, silver barrettes in her hair, and pearl white earrings. Getting ready for bedtime, she wears a pink nightgown. After being taken in by Prince Eric, she wears a multi-shade-of-blue dress consisting of a powder-blue blouse with long sleeves, a midnight-blue bodice, and a cobalt-blue foot-length skirt, along with black heels. She wears a big royal blue bow in her hair. After she's turned into a human once again, she wears a light blue glittering dress. After she kisses Eric and during their wedding, she wears a white wedding dress with a sparkling golden tiara on her veil.
Ariel is a bright, spirited, and headstrong mermaid princess with a strong passion for adventure and exploration. Her tendency to explore the more mysterious depths of the ocean (or more importantly, the world beyond the ocean) can lead to an array of problems to both herself, her friends, and in the confines of her personal life - as seen when she gets into an argument with her overprotective father, King Triton. Despite this, Ariel's selflessness, compassion, and intuitive way of thinking often resolve such problems, as she always takes full responsibility for her actions.
At the start of the original film, Ariel is shown to have a burning obsession with the human world, and a desire to learn more about their culture. Unlike her father at first, she views humans as aspiring creatures, astonished by their ability to constantly create, and heavily goes against the idea of them being "barbaric" and selfish as a result of this. This passion is revealed to have been prominent throughout Ariel's life years before the events of the film, as seen in the television series. By the point of the film, as seen through her lament, "Part of Your World", Ariel's obsession with the human world has reached unimaginable heights, as she spends most of her time focusing on finding, observing, and collecting various human objects that have sunk into the sea. Her obsession has also taken a toll on her emotionally, as the song begins with a sense of wonder and enchantment, ultimately climaxing in a soft end, filled with hopelessness and despair, representing Ariel's dying hopes of ever experiencing life upon the surface. These factors of desperation and despair are the prime motive behind Ariel's eventual deal with the sea witch, Ursula, to become human and experience the world above the surface. Despite not having the best relationship with her father, especially in regards to their respective views on humanity, she nonetheless was very loyal to him as well as her sisters, as after Ursula explained the deal to her, Ariel expressed some hesitance as she realized that if she succeeded in the deal (never mind if she failed her end of the bargain) she won't be able to see Triton or her sisters again, and later when Ursula cursed Triton, Ariel's first action was to attack Ursula to avenge him, even calling the Sea Witch a monster for what she did.
Ariel is also shown to be extremely compassionate and loving towards almost all living things; more so platonically than romantically. This is most notably seen through her friendship with her closest companion, Flounder, and even her father's court composer, Sebastian who, despite being against Ariel's recklessness and overly adventurous nature, is given a considerably large amount of love and respect from the princess, which is often reciprocated. With Flounder, she is comforting and patient, as well as protective, with the tendency to risk her own life for the guppies on various occasions. Her ability to befriend all various creatures, be they an abandoned killer whale, an irrationally feared sea creature, and even the son of one of her nemesis is displayed throughout the franchise. Before she met Eric, she was rarely interested in romantic relationships, not even with any of the merman princes that Triton tried to get her to marry. The only known exception was Prince Waverly of the Pacifica Kingdom, with whom she was infatuated. However, after meeting Eric, Ariel is revealed to be a romantic, willing to make daring sacrifices for the sake of true love. Her love for him is validated by Eric's returned selflessness and sacrificial actions for the sake of love; notably seen during the climax of the film.
Like her father, Ariel has a bad temper if she ever is provoked, although hers is not as bad as his. Although spirited, even she has had some degree of self-doubts about herself, as she actually at one point considered her father might have been correct and that she may have been a freak for having any fascination for humanity. She also had a degree of seeing the good in things, as she also doubted that humans could have been pure evil from their tools and artworks.
Also, despite her usual naivety and impulsiveness, Ariel has shown on many occasions to be serious, careful, and very intuitive. One example of her occasionally showing intuitiveness was just before exploring the sunken ship, where she suggested that Flounder stay outside and be on the lookout for sharks in the area when the latter tried to fake illness.
- She was voiced by Jodi Benson in her debut.
- She is the first Disney Princess to have red hair. Merida was the second.
- In School of Secrets, it's revealed that she is the aunt of a girl (who is the daughter of one of her sisters).
- Since she was 16-years-old in her debut, The Little Mermaid, and the beginning of Auradon was 20 years ago, that means that she is now 36-years-old.
- She brought back the Disney Princesses. When Walt Disney died, only Snow White, Cinderella, and Aurora existed; they didn't make a new fairy tales-based movie until 30 years later.
- By this, she began the renaissance of Disney.
- She has a daughter named Melody in The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea.